“Like, Bieber’s baby maybe? Oooh.”

Has the golden boy of squeaky clean teen pop finally been dragged into reality? This month Justin Bieber was scheduled to return home to take a paternity test after fan Mariah Yeater named him the father of her four month old son, Tristyn. Bieber’s management are adamant that any test results ‘will prove that Yeater’s claim is completely false’. Justin has tweeted to his fans ‘I’m going to ignore all the rumours…love y’all’. After Yeater’s paternity lawsuit was dropped this week, is this really case closed?

Whatever the results of a test, Yeater has pushed Justin into a new realm of celebrity: Bieber has come of age. The paternity suit is a classic staple of celebrity gossip, a nightmare for any popstar’s image – and we love it.

A timeless sequence of mystery, controversy and truth: DNA is a miracle for today’s gossipers and Jeremy Kyle-lovers. But hold back the hard evidence and we’re hooked for decades. The question of the source of Prince Harry’s infamous red hair keeps the rumour mill turning despite James Hewitt repeatedly asserting that the allegations have ‘no possibility’ of truth. Superficial gossip also suggests deep pain: Diana was upset whenever the question resurfaced and internet forums claim (of course) that Harry requested a paternity test – a claim for which there is little evidence.

Death does not hamper a good exposé. In 2007, DNA tests on recently deceased Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith revealed the identity of her daughter’s father. Just two years old, Dannielynn Smith met the judge who ordered tests on her mother’s body live on the Larry King show. Three years later, the impact of this insensitivity is still unclear but does beg the question – when it comes to celebrities, do we know when we’ve crossed a line?

Bieber’s sugar-coated innocence has given this paternity scandal a special flavour. Rushing to Justin’s defence, e-zine Hollywoodlife exclaimed ‘this is our little Bieber!’, ‘he would never do something like this’. Fans of the pop sensation have written to Yeater with real passion and ferocity. One writes ‘roses are red, violets are blue, Mariah Yeater we are gunna kill you’. Mariah’s case appears sketchy and her leaked past of stripping and battery has dented her reliability, but this defence of Bieber reveals worryingly unbalanced fans.

Yeater’s description of the intimate details of her and Justin’s alleged meeting sums up the frenzy: it ‘went from cute and gushy to, just, more aggressive’. Paternity scandal brings out emotion – just flip over and watch Jeremy on daytime TV to see familial tensions racked up to the max. Bieber is no exception, proclaiming Yeater is ‘not worthy of…thought or time’.

At the heart of all of these scandals lies the forgotten child. Celebrity paternity suits are not about the kids. Yeater verus Bieber will now be settled out of court with her new legal team saying ‘the case is completely out of control’. Whatever happens, as long as this ‘scandal’ remains in the public eye, the family focus remains skewed. The impact on the forgotten Tristyns, Harrys and Danniellynns continues unobserved.

Sarah Shapcott